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Fall 2006

a_moore Andrew Moore tackles tough immigration law issues

Six years after founding the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Assistant Professor Andrew Moore continues to work for immigrants through his scholarship.

Moore was a Jesuit seminarian when he began teaching at UDM as a visiting instructor in 1998. His initial interest in immigration law was based on the global perspective that a Jesuit education provides and the order’s particular focus on refugees. Working for Catholic Charities of Baltimore as a pro bono immigration attorney in 1997 had exposed him to the incredible need immigrants have for legal services.

Moore initially teamed up with the Immigration Legal Services office of the Archdiocese of Detroit to create a way for UDM law students to help immigrants with their legal problems. For six years he taught the basic immigration law course as well as a class for students being supervised by the Archdiocese. With support from the Jesuits, he expanded the program into an in-house clinic at the law school with David Koelsch as the director.

In 2002, Moore left the Jesuits and joined the law school as a full-time faculty member. He teaches the law school’s basic course on torts and courses on international law and human rights. He continues to play a supporting role at the Immigration Law Clinic.

Protecting immigrants

Moore’s Jesuit ideals and the lessons he learned at the Clinic continue to inspire his legal scholarship. His awareness of the great need for legal representation in immigration matters led him to publish an article in 2004 in the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal on fraud in the delivery of immigration services.

Moore writes about the problems created in many states by unscrupulous people claiming they can help with immigration legal problems. Often they do not deliver the services they promise or create additional problems for the immigrants by filing forms improperly.

Several states responded to this fraud epidemic by creating a special category of non-attorney service providers called immigration assistants or consultants. Michigan has enacted its own law regulating immigration clerical assistants.

“By creating immigration clerical assistants, you end up with legal needs being met by non-lawyers who have no training or expertise in immigration matters,” he says. “You generate the likelihood of more fraud or incompetence rather than addressing the underlying problems.”

He believes that the legal community is obligated to provide adequate representation to immigrants. “Lawyers have a monopoly and it’s the responsibility of the bar association to meet this great unmet need,” Moore says. “If lawyers are unable or unwilling to meet that need, we can be accused of falling short of that responsibility.” 

Protecting refugees

Moore’s experience representing asylum seekers provided the impetus for another avenue of scholarship. This fall, Moore will publish an article in the Santa Clara Law Review that examines the recently enacted Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States. Under this agreement Canada may turn back refugees seeking protection from persecution if they travel through the United States to get to Canada’s border. Moore says the Canadian government sought the agreement because many refugees pass through the United States on their way to Canada, which has a reputation for being more generous to those seeking asylum. The agreement allows Canada to turn back refugees without a hearing on the grounds that the United States is a “safe third country.”

Moore argues Canada is violating human rights embodied in several international treaties because the United States has a proven record of not protecting the rights of refugees. He finds the United States effectively denies many immigrants the opportunity to apply for asylum through procedures that don’t meet recognized international standards.

For example, Moore writes, there is a one-year deadline in the United States for seeking asylum and very broad bars to requesting protection. Additionally, the United States routinely detains refugees for long periods of time. “It has been demonstrated that it’s done for deterrence,” Moore says. “It makes you less inclined to come to the United States.”

His article reaches the conclusion that because the United States is not a “safe country” for many refugees, Canada is violating its international legal obligations by sending immigrants back here.

Unlevel playing field

According to Moore, the ongoing debate over immigration in this country has created a complex body of law that is difficult to navigate, even for lawyers. New restrictions are accompanied by exceptions, thereby increasing the need for competent legal counsel.

Immigrants who often don’t have a good command of English naturally have a hard time understanding their legal rights. Yet, because deportation is a civil matter, they are not entitled to legal representation.

“More than half the people go through the immigration courts without representation,” Moore says.

“Immigration law is extraordinarily complicated, and the odds of being successful without legal representation are small.”

Because U.S. immigration laws have become more restrictive, he believes scholarship is needed to determine whether justice is being served by the American government and legal system.

“Immigrants are one of the most vulnerable groups in the country,” Moore says. “This is why I do scholarship in the field.”